Friday, March 16, 2007


Zorra at "Kochtopf" has had the great idea to create an event (see details) in relation with "Saint Patrick's Day", an Irish feast day that celebrates a Christian missionary named Saint Patrick (373-493), the patron saint of Ireland...

This feast takes place on the 17th of March, Ireland's National Day. Nowadays, festivities take place all around the world and this day is celebrated by many Irish
people and non-Irish alike. On this special day, a carnival-like atmosphere prevails. There is generally a parade, large amounts of lager as well as other alcoholic beverages (colored green) are drunken, lots of Irish food is eaten and at least one green item of clothing is worn by the participants who really let themselves go completely.

For the round-up organized by Zorra, I have decided to participate with one of the most well-known and well-spread recipes that hails from Ireland: "Soda Bread". It is maybe not a very original choice, but it is nonetheless a speciality that has it's own interest...

As you might have already guessed, this bread which is called "Wheaten Bread" in Northern Ireland and "Brown Bread" in the Republic of Ireland (or "Damper" in Australia), is exclusively made with baking soda and contains no yeast at all. Thanks to the buttermilk and the baking soda, this quick bread will "rise" while baking, like any other "normal" bread. It is due to the lactic acid of the bu
ttermilk which reacts with the baking soda, thus forming tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide gas.

This bread dates from 1840 when bicarbonate soda was introduced to Ireland. Because of the climate of this country, hard wheat which produced a flour that rose easily in combination with yeast didn't grow well. It is for that reason that baking soda came in handy and replaced the other more common raising agent (yeast).

Regarding the significance of the cross on the top of the bread, it is believed that it was done in order to ward off the devil. But, the cross also has a technical purpose which consists in helping the bread to rise properly while it bakes.

Since a few different versions of this loaf exist, many tradition
al Irish people will argue on the ingredients used in the fabrication of an authentic "Soda Bread". Now, thanks to modern adaptations, one can find them flavored with caraway seeds, spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, etc...) or enriched with chocolate chips, candied orange peel, chopped nuts, dried fruits (cranberries, raisins, currants, etc...)...

My "Soda Bread" recipe is more classic, plain and close to the way the original loaf should be, but it tastes nonetheless great! This bread is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. It's texture differs quite a lot from yeast-based breads. It is more crumbly and dense. It's flavor is very special as the baking soda gives it a special taste that borders with that of cakes (but not quite either). It is good and very practical, especially if you want to eat bread, but haven't got the time to prepare any. It is then that "Soda Bread" becomes very helpful, because it is made in a whiz and fulfills any demanding gourmet!

Source: "Ultimate Bread" by Eric Treuille and Ursula Ferrigno. For a complete review of this book, click here.

Makes 1 loaf.

250g Plain white flour
250g Wholemeal flour
1 1/2 Tsp Baking soda
1 Tsp Salt
30g Unsalted butter
300ml Buttermilk

~ Connemara, Ireland. ~


1. Preheat the oven to 200° C (400° F).

2. Sift the flours, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl.
3. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until evenly dispersed.
4. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the butter
5. With a wooden spoon, stir in the flour to form a soft, crumbly dough.
6. Turn out on to a lightly floured work surface and k
nead the dough very lightly until smooth, silky and elastic, about 3 minutes.
7. Shape into a flattened round about 15cm (6 inches) across and 5cm (2 inches) thick.
8. Dust with flour.
9. Cut a slash, 2cm (1 inch) deep, across the top. Then, another in the opposite direction to make an "X".

10. Bake for about 35 minutes until hollow sounding when tapped underneath.
11. Cover with a cloth, then leave to cool on a wire rack.

If you don't have buttermilk at home, then take 300ml milk and add either 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar. Stir. Now, you have soured milk!
Eat this bread on the day it is baked or place in a plastic bag and keep overnight (find that it keeps well in this way...).

Serving suggestions:
Eat this bread like any other loaf, with either jam, Nutella, cottage cheese, cheese, honey or as accompaniment to your meal.

(Connemara -Pic by Philippe Demay


  1. Mon mari rêve de retourner en Irlande... Je vais lui essayer ce pain, en attendant !
    Grosses bises et merci pour tes billets que j'adore !

  2. HÉLÈNE (cannes): Je n'y suis jamais allée, mais ça me tenterais... J'espère que ce pain plaira à toi et à ton mari!
    Merci pour ton commentaire et à bientôt!
    Bon weekend, bises...

  3. Il est tres beau Rosa, la photo finale donne vraiment une bonne idee de sa forme. Moi aussi je reve d'aller en Irlande un jour.

  4. C'est amusant, j'ai eu la même idée pour fêter la Saint-Patrick. J'adore ce pain, surtout tartiné de Dairygold (que je fais expédier d'Irlande) !

  5. Great recipe and very informative post.

    It looks very yummy-yummy :)

  6. Bonsoir Rosa, je passe te faire un petit coucou...Toujours difficile pour moi en anglais !
    Bonne soirée

  7. Hey Rosa, j'etais sure que tu ferais quelque chose pour la Saint Patrick! Et nous avons eu la meme idee! Quand je dis que je suis presque ton clone! Cependant, les recettes sont differentes. Ton pain est magnifique! Happy Saint Patrick's day!

  8. Ce soda bread avec une forme traditionnelle est vraiment beau. J'aime le manger avec du beurre et de la marmelade. Tu m'a donné faim avec ces belles photos.
    Le flourless chocolate cake est à tomber.
    Quel blog! Je reviendrai c'est sûr...

  9. GRACIANNE: Merci, Gracianne! Oui, l'Irlande me plairait beaucoup...

    MINGOUMANGO: Merci pour ta visite! C'est un pain formidable surtout lorsqu'il est tartiné de beurre et de "Cenovis"...

    MONIKA KORNGUT: Thanks, Monika!

    PAOLA: Un coucou à toi aussi! Merci pour ta visite... J'ai installé un traducteur si ça t'intéresse! Bises...

    CONFITUREMAISON: Oui, il faut croire que tu me ressemble pas mal ;-P! Oui, nos recettes ne sont pas semblables. Merci pour ton commentaire! Happy belated St. Pat's day!

    ZOUBIDA: Merci pour ta visite et ton commentaire! Je suis contente de savoir que mes recettes te plaisent et que tu aies trouvé mon blog. A bientôt, alors...

  10. il est superbe ton irish soda bread! et vraiment représentatif de l'irlande! bravo!

  11. Hi
    can I use simple bicarbonate of soda or the baking one is peculiar for this bread. Where I live there is no baking soda

  12. ANONYMOUS: Thanks for passing by! In fact, "baking soda" is "bicarbonate of soda", so it's ok...

  13. Thanks very much for a very quick answer about the baking soda. I am going straightaway in the kitchen to try this bread